The Avengers and X-Men had a big fight. They made up and now they're teaming up in a variety of short stories across the A+X title. Spider-Man is an Avenger (although he's currently the Superior Spider-Man, taken over by Doctor Octopus) and Cyclops is an X-Man (although he's kind of a bad good guy as he murdered Professor Xavier when he as possessed by the Phoenix Force!).
Cyclops pursues an elderly woman through New York who has been possessed by a mutant called Malice. Cyclops is taking this pursuit personally following his possession by the Phoenix Force. Malice switches to a younger woman who boards a subway so Cyclops is forced to use his optic blasts to blast the door of the moving train, leap aboard and follow her! The train is packed with commuters but Cyclops finds her quickly. She asks his whether he will sacrifice the woman she has possessed and, as he thinks, The Superior Spider-Man leaps through the window and kicks him to the ground! Spider-Man attacks, knowing that something is wrong with Cyclops's optic blasts! Cyclops tries to warn him but Malice sneaks up and tries to possess Spider-Man! Used to pushing away weaker personalities, Spider-Man expels her and stands with Cyclops to defeat her. She transfers herself to a man and threatens to throw him from the train! Cyclops leaps to save him, allowing Malice to possess him! Cyclops/Malice turns to kill Spider-Man but finds that his optic blasts are out of control! This buys Spider-Man enough time to knock him out!
Cyclops wakes to find himself in Spider-Man's lab and Malice is gone. Spider-Man used the fact the Malice couldn't control what Cyclops couldn't either to deceive her. He figures that deception is as much of being a hero as the truth is, which is why they both where masks. He recommends that Cyclops use his public image as a villain. He hands Cyclops a vial with Malice, having used his knowledge of separating personalities(!). Cyclops leaves, thankful for the help, but wondering whether a lesser man would have tuned Malice into a weapon...
This team-up is fun because Jim Krueger makes the most of having two heroic villains meet each other. The nods towards possession and personality separation adds to the story, character and entertainment value and the dialogue from Spider-Man, in particular, captures the depth of character that Chris Gage has delivered so well in Superior Spider-Man Team-Up. The closing scene regarding masks and perception is my favourite part as it allows these two to share a moment that is conversation on one level, honesty to each other on another and honest to themselves on another. Yet there are still masks and secrets in play when you consider whether or not Malice may have been spliced by Spider-Man as part of his plans and plots... An unexpectedly thoughtful last page from Krueger.
I'm impressed with Ron Lim's art. I've experienced some of his work in the 90s and this is a lot better, with much weightier lines and more control over the sketchier elements of his pages. The level of detail is great and he handles the action sequences with clarity. I'm not saying that the art is outstanding, nor breaks any boundaries, but it does a good job and is a step up from what I've seen Lim produce before.
This gets a three because of the interaction between the two characters, the novelty of seeing them together and the line about the masks.